Ever wondered how you can touch yourself for 20 minutes without getting a serious arm ache, yet writing so much as three sentences feels like you’ve broken your wrist? It’s your brain’s doing. “Part of the onset of orgasm is the blockage of pain,” explains Dr Komisaruk (making your brain a bit like your sex-arm’s sports coach.)
Did you know libido peaks when you’re ovulating (the time midway between two periods)? “Oestrogen and progesterone levels affect the limbic brain, which is involved with libido,” psychiatrist Dr Daniel G. Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, explains. “Since both these hormones shift during a woman’s cycle, she generally is more receptive during the middle of the cycle when she is most fertile.” And just to clarify, ‘receptiveness’ includes not just an increased interest in sex, but also a greater satisfaction from orgasm. Yep, so mark those calendars, ladies!
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We might not be giving thanks for this, but it is part of the pleasure process. Step forward, basal ganglia (which sounds like a kind of Indian curry, but is actually a key pleasure area of the brain). “The basal ganglia are flooded with dopamine during an orgasm,” Dr Amen says. “It is the same area involved in integrating emotion with motor movements, which is why we jump when we get excited, freeze when we are scared and – yes – look weird during an orgasm.”